Friday, August 15, 2014
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are way bigger assholes than Mel Gibson ever was
Being able to convincingly read lines that other people have written doesn't indicate any particular degree of intelligence. But some people, particularly those who don't know a lot of actors, can confuse the two traits.
There are some very intelligent, very knowledgeable actors. And there are, by several orders of magnitude more, plenty of incredibly ignorant, stupid ones.
Mel Gibson is not a stupid man. He has some obvious and serious conflicts with his inner demons, and he may even be a little bit nuts, but his exceptional abilities and success outside of acting suggest he is very smart.
However, I don't believe that Javier Bardem or his wife Penelope Cruz are particularly bright people.
The movie star couple made the news the other week by being signatories to a public letter accusing Israel of "genocide" in Gaza, then after an outcry at the ignorance and hatefulness suggested by that tried, but not very convincingly, to backtrack.
Genocide means the killing of a race, and anyone with any knowledge of the situation in Gaza knows that the population there has in fact mushroomed in the last few years. Rather than Israel "starving" the Palestinians in Gaza, the population has become so fat that obesity is considered one of their primary health risks. After the terror group Hamas, which is the elected government in Gaza, lobbed thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian centers, Israel responded with targeted strikes that did more to try to reduce civilian casualties than any other military has in the history of warfare. If Israel actually wanted to kill the population of Gaza the way that Hamas wants to murder every Jew in Israel, the Israeli military easily has the capacity to do it, and the death toll would have been in the hundreds of thousands rather than the 2000 to date.
As Relativity Media's CEO Ryan Kavanaugh said, "anyone calling it Israeli 'genocide' vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation and shouldn't be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic. " Of course it's possible to be both ignorant and anti-Semitic. In fact, the two frequently go hand-in-hand.
But some people, while disgusted with Barden and Cruz, are mitigating their bigotry.
The Independent reported "one industry executive said the Hollywood couple’s actions did not reach the "Mel Gibson threshold," referencing the widespread public outrage that erupted after Mr Gibson was caught making an anti-Semitic tirade while being arrested in 2006."
I'd argue that rather than reaching "the Mel Gibson threshold," Bardem and Cruz' actions are considerably worse. I've written about the subject of Gibson's rant before and I think the Mad Max actor was pilloried beyond proportion given the context of the offense. It would be a disgrace if Bardem and Cruz got a pass because of some ill-conceived comparison between the two situations.
Let's compare them. When Gibson had his anti-Semitic outburst, he wasn't making a public statement, he was drunk out of his mind on tequila and had just been pulled over by a traffic cop. Think about it for a second. How wasted do you have to be to go on a rant about Jews to the Jewish traffic cop who pulls you over when you're three times over the limit, and how seriously do you think things said under those circumstances should be taken?
Remember that when Gibson was hauled into the police station that night, he also called a female cop "sugar tits"!
Gibson was raised by an extremist, bigoted father and it's to be expected that some of that upbringing would have permeated the depths of his psyche - and few things can mine the subconscious better than a giant helping of cactus juice. Many years ago, early in the morning, drunk on a similar amount of the Mexican wonder liquid in a Fort Lauderdale hotel room, I had an entire conversation with a rerun of Barney Miller that was on TV. Though I don't remember the details, I seem to recall it being an entertaining conversation. However, I do realize that having a conversation with a TV set is a silly thing to do, and it's not a public policy position of mine.
Similarly, whether or not Gibson's drunken remarks reflect private attitudes or were anomalies put in his mind that night by a tequila worm, Gibson has never made public pronouncements of Jew-hate. Mel Gibson went on a rant while plastered for which he immediately and unreservedly apologized, and he never tried to sway the public to either hate Jews in the same way his "sugartits" remark was not a public appeal to convince anyone that women should be judged primarily on the sweetness of their breasts.
But that differs from the context of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz's statement. Their anti-Semitic idiocy was done soberly, very publicly, and with the express intent of trying to alter public opinion.
That is a level of assholery that Mel Gibson has never come close to approaching, and when comparing the situations, those differences should be kept well in mind.